Last week I was given an opportunity to have a week of downtime at Bass Lake. A family friend of mine was so kind for allowing me to use their place. Bass Lake is about a three hour drive to the East of San Jose. I never really have downtime whenever I would taken vacation,  because it always consists of being busy visiting relatives or friends or going to see this attraction and that amusement park. But this time, the whole week, all I got to do was the bare minimum of what my normal schedule requires of me.  All I did the entire week was eat, read, sleep, and walk to the Lake, eat again, sleep again, and more sleep. I truly used the time to relax, by thinking very little about work and using the opportunity as my personal Sabbath to listen to what God wanted me to hear.

One morning, I took my wife and two kids to walk around the lake. The view around the lake that morning was amazing; this big pool of water surrounded by a mountain of trees. I was pleased that this time Bass lake had a lot of water. About three years ago, when I went there, the lake looked very sad. I could see the receding line of water, the dry beach that was covered with some dead plants that used to be submersed under water and the boat docks near the beach literally sat on the ground. Now, it was a totally different view, clear water all over, ducks were playing tag, little boats around the dock that swayed happily on the water. It refreshed our souls.

While we were there, a big dog approached us wanting to play with us. From afar an old man appeared calling his huge dog that scared my kid; because he jumped all over my five year old who now was hiding behind my feet. This old man reminded me of a wise tribal chief from the movie “Dances With Wolves”. He had long silver hair and a silver beard, leather jacket, and a walking stick that was made of natural wood. He said hi to us and apologized for the behavior of his dog.

We introduced ourselves and talked about the beauty of the lake. With his friendly smile he told us that he has been living in the area for forty years now. And then suddenly his tone changed. He said, “Look at the hills covered with pine trees. Do you see the brown trees all over there?” I looked around and said back to him, “Yes, I do. I wondered about that myself as we drove down here the other day. I thought those trees were supposed to be evergreen, so I thought maybe because the weather is still cool…”

“No. It’s because of the bark beetles that eat up the tree. Those trees are so fragile, they could not defend themselves. What saddened me was that I have to see those 30 million trees dying in my lifetime. I have never seen such destruction as long as I’ve been here.”

“30 millions trees? Can we do something about it?” I was in shock.

“Nope. They will all die eventually. Funny how people still don’t believe about global warming. The unnatural drought that has happened change the whole ecosystem. The trees didn’t get enough water and the dry trees attract those bark beetles to party. We are doing this damage to ourselves.”

That conversation still stuck with me till now. The beautiful scenery I witnessed that week apparently hides a myriad of unresolved problems. And the man’s statement, “We’re doing this damage” really made me think. Yes, I believe I contribute something to that problem starting from the excessive usage of plastic all the way of being ignorant about this problem altogether. What kind of life will I pass on to my kids if I continue to be part of the problems? It should make me think. It should make us all aware that God gives us this planet to nurture and to love.

Today, I’d like to invite you all to pray for the trees in our lives. A prayer by Margueritte Harmon Bro:

“Our Father, we thank Thee for Trees!

We thank Thee for the trees of our childhood

in whose shade we played and read and dreamed;

for the trees of our schooldays,

the trees along the paths where friendship walked.

We thank Thee for special trees

which will always stand large in our memory

Because for some reason of our own they become our trees.

We thank Thee for the great stretches of trees

Which make the forests.

May we always stand humbly before Thy trees

and draw strength from them as they, in turn,

draw sustenance from Thy bounties of earth, sun, and air. “

Love and prayers,

Vincent Arishvara 04072016

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